Brooklyn, N.Y. – Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke released the following statement on a letter she and fifteen colleagues sent to the Department of State calling on the agency to resist attempts to nullify the citizenship of Dominicans who are of Haitian descent.
In 2013, the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Court held that the children of parents who are “in transit” (a category that includes undocumented immigrants) are not citizens. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people who were born in the Dominican Republic – many of whom speak Spanish rather than Haitian Creole – have been defined as non-citizens. Hundreds of people have already been deported, and individuals who have remained often experience discrimination.
“These continued attacks on Dominicans of Haitian descent are unacceptable and are in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit rendering persons “stateless.” There are now people born in the Dominican Republic whose first language is Spanish and only know the nation as their homeland. While a number of these people have been defined as non-citizens, effectively stateless non-persons, in their own home and many Haitians came to the Dominican Republic to work or to escape the turmoil that followed the earthquake in 2010, many are descendants of migrant workers born in the Dominican Republic decades ago. Forcing them to return to Haiti would result in needless suffering, quite frankly devoid of any purpose. I am also deeply concerned that the nullification of citizenship for people of Haitian descent was racially or ethnically motivated against individuals of African descent – a rationale that should never form the basis of policy and has no place in this day and age. I urge the Department of State to work with the government of the Dominican Republic to reverse this terrible decision.”